Hardik Pandya impressed everyone with his captaincy in the IPL 2022 with Gujarat Titans. On the tour of Ireland, Hardik led India to a memorable 7-wicket win in the first T20I. Could he be India's long-term solution to the captaincy problem after Rohit Sharma?
Hardik Pandya has raised his stocks as a captain
Photo : AP
- KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant are the most touted options to succeed Rohit Sharma as India's captain after 2023 World Cup.
- Hardik Pandya has also emerged as a late candidate for the role.
- Having won the IPL 2022 season, Hardik is now being seen as a potent long-term captaincy option.
Not Virat Kohli , not Rohit Sharma , not KL Rahul, not even Rishabh Pant . It is Hardik Pandya who got the nod as India's captain for the 2-match T20I series against Ireland, having convinced the selectors enough with his title run as the skipper of Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 season. However, could Hardik be a long-term captaincy solution for India?
Virat Kohli's exit as India's skipper from all three formats automatically gave Rohit Sharma the baton. While there's no denying that Rohit will be India's skipper at the 2022 T20 World Cup and the 2023 ODI World Cup, the team's future from there on is up in the air.
How long can 34-year-old Rohit Sharma continue?
Fitness is not one of Rohit Sharma's strong suits. Unlike Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni , to expect the Hitman to continue till the age of 39 or 40 could be too much to ask. Even when Rohit was made India's skipper for all three formats, many experts asked how his workload and fitness will be managed.
Since taking over the baton from Kohli, Rohit has already missed multiple series over fitness, injury, and other reasons. Can he really be expected to continue leading the team after the 2023 World Cup?
What are the other options?
While Kohli is no longer a captaincy candidate, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, and Hardik Pandya emerge as arguably the three strongest candidates to replace him. In Tests, Jasprit Bumrah is also a potential option.
As far as the beginning of their captaincy stints in limited-overs cricket are concerned, no one has impressed as much as Hardik. While Rahul remains India's deputy for now, if his record as a skipper doesn't improve, there's no denying that the selectors would be looking for a change, and Hardik, at present, is emerging as the strongest candidate.
Rahul, who is 30 years old at present, also seems to get affected a bit with captaincy responsibility on his shoulders. The selectors wouldn't want to see him suppress his natural game which is incredibly valuable at the moment.
Rishabh Pant sure has age on his side but how good has he been as Delhi Capitals captain so far? In two full seasons as Delhi Capitals skipper in the IPL, Pant hasn't impressed much. His own game also seems to suffer from the additional burden of captaincy. In such a case, could he really be a long-term solution?
What sets Hardik apart is his ability to play his best cricket while being a captain, something that only Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni have been able to show in the past decade. Be it his decision-making or not losing his head even in the most tricky situations, Hardik has shown traits that not many knew he even had.
At the age of 28, the all-rounder is entering his best days as a cricketer. If the IPL 2022 season was any hint, Hardik could really be the leader that takes the next-gen of Indian cricket forward.